Category: Integrated Marketing

1-Minute Quiz May Reveal Your Best B2B Marketing Tool

In the early days of this B2B marketing blog I wrote a post about social media called “Getting over our own marketing bias.”

In the post I clearly stated that I didn’t “get” social media. I couldn’t see what benefits it brings to B2B marketing. Of course, because I recognize my bias, I work hard to read about and understand the value of social media and be open minded about its value to integrated B2B marketing strategies.

DM BiasToday’s big bias on the part of most B2B marketers, however, is against direct mail marketing.

B2B marketers who do not properly test this channel for lead generation are being as narrow-minded as I was about social media. I’m here to help them get over this bias with this quick Quiz. It’s designed to help B2B marketers discover if their bias is getting in the way of their marketing success.

Answer these seven quick questions now and see the result at the bottom.

  1. My company sells B2B products or services into definable universes that can be classified using firmagraphics such as industry, number of employees, annual sales, years in business, etc.
  2. My marketing budget can cover a cost of $1 to $5 per contact to generate a direct response from qualified prospects.
  3. I want the opportunity to generate 1% to 2% response to my lead generation efforts.
  4. I am willing to spend more than $5 per contact for the opportunity to generate as much as a 10% response rate of qualified prospects.
  5. I can cover the cost of a $25,000 direct mail campaign by making just one or two sales.
  6. I have a list of respondents to my other marketing programs that I haven’t been able to reach via phone or email.
  7. Sales has identified a finite number of top prospects with whom they want to have a conversation.

If B2B marketers answer “yes” to just one of these seven B2B marketing questions, I can pretty much guarantee that their company is missing what could easily be one of its most productive marketing tools.

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Why B2B marketers must read this book on lead generation.

The title of David Scott’s new book “The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t just cover the new rules of lead generation marketing that involve LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It covers all the channels and all the practices necessary to achieve successful B2B marketing lead generation.

As the CEO and founder of Marketfish, David Scott knows his stuff. When he tookScott Book marketing courses at the Wharton School, all he learned about was brand marketing. Thrown into a B2B marketing position when the CMO left the $3.5 billion publicly traded software company where he worked, he had to learn fast. Over the years he has discovered the value of data, testing and measurement for all channels. He now shares his knowledge and experience in this comprehensive lead generation marketing handbook.

B2B marketers must read and share this book if they:

  • Have been so focused on entering social media — or any other single media or tactic — that other necessary lead generation channels have been neglected.
  • Want a comprehensive refresher course on B2B marketing best practices to ensure that nothing valuable has been missed.
  • Have beginners on their team who need to learn what effective lead generation is all about.
  • Need to better understand the importance of data, brand, B2B marketing math and all the other elements that turn million-dollar companies into multi-billion-dollar companies.
  • Are worried that they’re missing one of the seven most successful lead-generation approaches that companies are using today.
  • Have budget limitations and want to focus lead gen dollars on tactics that can maximize the return.
  • Want a handy list of how-tos on any aspect of lead generation marketing.

Highly readable and very informative, this book doesn’t miss a beat. I recommend it for every member of every B2B marketing team — beginner or expert — wanting to maximize the success and the ROI of their company’s lead generation.

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B2B marketing: The truth behind the trends for 2013–Part II

Last week, I judged the validity and value of the first ten of Hubspot’s “20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.”

This trend report covers the issues that marketers are being encouraged to pay attention to and incorporate into their planning for 2013. Here is my take on items 11 through 20:

Good Information

“Email Lives On”
This prediction promotes that email will become “less batch and blast” and more personalized. That’s good, as the more any message can be personalized the more effective it will be.

“Marketing Technology Evolves”
I hope this prediction is correct. One point promises that marketing solutions, ROI measurement, etc., will become more integrated so marketers can get a true picture of what’s working and what is not.

“Content Crowdsourcing Grows”
Leveraging viral content created by prospects and customers adds an interesting and possibly money-saving resource to the B2B marketing tool chest.

“Marketing Gets Gamified”
Not sure about the product placement possibility mentioned in this prediction; however, making content more sticky by adding some entertainment value to it is just the tactic today’s B2B marketers need to stand out and get attention.

Nothing New

“Marketing Speaks Like a Human”
This trend implies that, because of social media, marketers can start talking to their prospects as one human to another. Speaking to buyers in a one-on-one tone, based on the buyer’s individual wants and needs, has always been a hallmark of successful target marketing.

“I’ll Take Some Content Curation, Please”
The creation of more targeted and compelling content has been and should be a line item on every B2B marketing budget.

“A Picture is Worth 1000 Words”
This point refers to the hot new picture posting sites on the Web such as Pinterest. However, since the above phrase has been recognized as an old Chinese proverb, it’s safe to assume that there’s nothing new about value of pictures. How effective these sites can be for B2B marketers remains to be seen.

“Context is Content’s New Best Friend”
There’s nothing new about choosing content, messaging, channels and placements based on the profile and past behavior of prospects and customers. It’s always been and will always be a best practice.

Don’t Believe It

“Inbound, Not Automation, Becomes Priority”
I disagree with the premise that automated marketing is, overall, a failure. I agree that many companies do not put in the strategy and follow-through necessary to make automation work as it should. But automating contact with prospects and trying to move them through the buy cycle based on their past actions is still better than not following up at all. Inbound marketing does not replace this on any level.

“Outbound Marketing Loses Traction”
This claim begins with these stats: “Mass marketing gets a 2% response rate, if you’re lucky. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, can produce conversion rates 10X higher or more.” This is playing with math, as it does not compare response rates or conversion rates. If done right, responders to outbound marketing effort also have high conversion rates. B2B marketers that eliminate outbound efforts to generate qualified leads will be out of work soon.

Technology and channels continue to grow and change. But integrated strategies and best practices will keep B2B marketers on top of those trends regardless of the changes.

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B2B marketing know-it-alls are on a fast path to failure.

In the course of putting together a marketing program for a client recently, I had the opportunity to call a colleague I had not worked with in many years. In our initial conversation I asked about her daughter (whose age I had forgotten). My colleague responded by saying, “She’s a senior in high school now and she knows everything.”

The daughter’s attitude, of course, comes from the limited experience of youth.

This attitude is evident in parts of the B2B marketing, too. A person who is new to the working world of marketing and in a position related to digital marketing, for example, completely rejects all other channels as dying or dead. Those immersed in social media think that outbound marketing is completely out of date and old-fashioned.

These individuals have not experienced the power of other marketing channels and therefore dismiss their viability. They aren’t exposed to B2B marketing efforts like these and, when they are, don’t believe what they see:

  • On a direct mail marketing survey effort designed to generate B2B leads for a large corporation, the young members of the marketing staff were shocked that 74% of the direct mail responders mailed back the completed survey instead of taking it online.
  • An ecommerce company that had been selling online exclusively for five years mailed their first printed catalog and were surprised that it delivered a 1.5% response rate. Those weren’t just leads, but sales.
  • A B2B outbound marketing lead generation campaign sent out by a publisher generated a 3.1% response from direct mail and a .6% response from email making the same offer.

One of the important steps in building a solid marketing strategy is selecting which channels to test. Any B2B marketers putting their entire budget into a single medium must be one of those marketers who knows it all.

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B2B marketing blog file reveals 17 useful ideas.

When it became difficult to force another piece of paper into my deskside file drawer I realized it was time to clean out some of the files it contained.

One, labeled B2B Marketing Ideas, was many inches thick, so I decided to start there. Sorting through the file, I discovered a number of pieces of B2B marketing content full of valuable advice. Here’s what I re-discovered:

Strategies for a Great Headline
In a 2010 issue of Target Market Magazine, Robert Lerose provided what he calls “Six timeless formulas for envelope and landing page teasers.” These strategies might stimulate ideas for some interesting email subject lines, too.

  1. Use a news element.
  2. Use a provocative question or outrageous statement
  3. Arouse emotions
  4. Present a problem/solution
  5. Leverage specifics
  6. Share a big idea

10 Critical Steps for Hooking Decision-Makers Online
Another item in the drawer was notes I took at a live presentation from a representative at QuinStreet. I don’t have all 10 Critical Steps listed in my notes, but here are the ones I put stars next to that I think are worth sharing:

  1. Test creative and messaging concepts using less expensive Internet channels such as email before using those ideas in more expensive channels such as direct mail marketing.
  2. Make sure that the verbiage in banners, pay-per-click ads and landing pages relates to where a prospect is now, or what the prospect may be using now, not to what is being sold.
  3. Never put anything in your messaging that will cause a reader/viewer/prospect to pause. (This is one reason I like to minimize the use of questions in copy.)
  4. Add an 800# on the response confirmation page to make it easy for hot leads to call immediately.

Five Keys to the Executive Suite
Notes from another live event I attended do not contain the name of the company or speaker. So, many apologies to whoever it was and thank you for these excellent B2B marketing ideas.

  1. In your B2B marketing messages to execs, never try to achieve more than one objective at a time. For every additional objective, performance drops to half. Therefore, use only one call to action in the marketing effort. (Actually, this is true of every B2B marketing target, not just executives.)
  2. When marketing to executives, make sure to use names. To middle managers and other targets, marketing to titles only often can work, but with top execs names are essential.
  3. Emotion works as long as the message is believable.
  4. Personal offers (that benefit the individual) work better than business-related offers.
  5. The value of the offer you make to an executive must match the commitment the B2B marketing is asking them to make. That is, if the marketing is trying to get appointments for sales, then the offer gift better be a big deal.
  6. Longer letters actually produce a better response, as they are perceived to have more value. Tested at IBM, a 4-page letter actually outperformed a 2-page letter.

The last point relates to something I learned very early in my B2B marketing career. It is that every prospect may respond because of a different “benefit” provided by the product or service being sold. Marketing messages that include ALL of the potential benefits will reach more of the target market and generate greater response.

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B2B marketing: How B2B marketers can maximize open rates.

My colleague, James Pennington of Anderson Direct Marketing, a full-service direct marketing agency, was recently helping a B2B marketing client build their marketing strategy for a new product. In the process, he related this story, which some readers may not find amusing. Yet it’s true.

“I was attending a social media presentation in which the speaker spent time bashing traditional direct mail marketing by stating the fact that 44% of direct mail was not opened and got tossed directly into the trash. After hearing this statement, I raised my hand and asked, ‘Does that mean that 56% of it does get opened? That seems pretty terrific to me. What’s the open rate on email?’ The presenter answered 10% and there was some serious buzz kill in the room.”

In the B2B marketing world, direct mail marketing is still the most effective channel for generating leads and it is still cost-effective for companies selling higher priced products with long buy cycles.

Although it has a valuable place in integrated marketing, email marketing typically cannot produce the lead generation, open rates and response rates of direct mail.

Here are a few of those stats:

  • Prospecting emails to fresh lists typically get open rates of 9%-15% and click-through rates (CTRs) of 2.8%-3.2%. Marketo views open rates of 16%-20% as top performers. The average CTR per Marketo is 2.1%-5% with 5.1%-10% viewed as top performers.
  • A newsletter to a B2B house list is getting open rates of 18%-22% and CTRs of 3%-11%. This is consistent with MarketingSherpa‘s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report in which 1,500 survey respondents reported an average open rate of 23% for B2B newsletters and an 11% CTR.
  • Follow-up emails to webinar or event attendees get an open rate of 31% and CTR of 55%.

B2B marketers looking to maximize open rates and fill their pipeline with qualified leads might want to include the still very powerful and productive direct mail marketing channel.

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B2B interactive social media marketer shocked.

When I checked out the top stories at B2B Marketing Zone I was a bit dismayed. Every story highlighted at the top was about social media. Yes, it’s the hot topic, but on a site that features dozens of B2B blog posts, surely there would be some variety.

Moving on to other B2B sites, I visited Webbiquity to discover Tom Pick’s amusing report of the “Top 10 Tweets About Today’s Twitter Outage.” One, of course, said, “Worst part about #Twitter being down is you can’t tweet about it.”

This observation brings me back to one of the earliest blog posts I wrote, advising B2B marketers on “Getting over our own marketing bias.” It was 2009 and I was bemoaning the fact that every blog I had reviewed that day addressed social media. Well, it’s 2012 now and nothing has changed.

I’m pretty sure that what is being talked about, and what draws attention, does not reflect what’s being done in the real world of B2B marketing. Yet a colleague of mine and his team were making a client presentation recently on a proposed direct mail marketing program. One of the team members was a new hire fresh out of a position in interactive marketing. She was shocked to learn that direct mail is the B2B client’s primary channel and how well it’s working for them.

Since nothing has changed, perhaps it is time to repeat some of the advice I gave in 2009 to marketers who think that social media — or any one channel, for that matter — is the above all and end all of B2B marketing. So I advise that, before B2B companies make any decision about which channels to use in their marketing efforts, they take these four steps:

  1. Talk to colleagues and peers who use various media in their marketing; learn about how they are used and their results.
  2. Look at published facts and figures on how the channel has been performing for other B2B companies.
  3. Determine if a particular channel has been used successfully in markets similar to yours.
  4. Test it before you dismiss it.
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B2B marketing automation is finally integrated.

You may have heard me shouting with joy recently when I received my latest copy of Deliver Magazine, the marketing magazine put out by the U.S. Postal Service. The article I loved is entitled “Pulling the Trigger“, which you can read in full by downloading the issue.

What it reports is that Eloqua, one of today’s more well-known B2B marketing automation providers, is now testing the integration of direct mail into its automated offerings.

They started the testing in one of their own marketing campaigns — as Elle Woulfe, Eloqua’s director, marketing programs reports, “To get our message in front of executives, we need to reach them over their preferred channels. By adding a direct mail touch to an integrated e-mail campaign, we hoped to open the door with new contacts and reach them outside of their inbox. If an executive target clicked through an Eloqua e-mail, a customized direct mail response was activated.  One card, themed ‘Cash Cow,’ went to CMOs. Another, entitled ‘Profit Prophet,’ went to non-CMO prospects. The cards featured themed graphics, first-name personalization and a QR code. Executives who didn’t respond immediately received a triggered e-mail; those who did respond drew another direct mailing. All mail pieces were tracked, so when a card was delivered, it instantly activated the next marketing step.”

All marketers today are endorsing integrated marketing and reaching out to prospects in different ways with different kinds of content. The reason integrated marketing works so well is that it gives B2B marketers a greater chance of reaching more of their prospects in the way that those prospects are most receptive to receiving information.

There may be a big and popular “cloud” out there, but B2B buyers still read their mail. Congrats to Eloqua for integrating offline into their online and offering truly integrated B2B marketing.

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Is your B2B marketing missing a secret ingredient?

The network of B2B marketers digitally sharing news, information and expertise through LinkedIn, Twitter, and dozens of other sites is currently focused on social media. Not long ago it was talking about email marketing, SEO and other tools available to B2B marketers today.

Each of those digital marketing methods has value for communicating, building relationships with prospective buyers, nurturing them through the buy-cycle and more. But there’s one thing digital media doesn’t do well and there’s one medium that can deliver it most consistently. This secret ingredient is “longevity” — and the medium is direct mail.

Tweets arrive, race through groups of users and are gone. The daily emails that arrive on the desktops of B2B buyers and influencers number in the hundreds. Email communications grab attention quickly and then are gone — often never to be seen again. There are times when they don’t even grab attention.

The only medium or channel that has the ability to stay around and add valuable longevity to a B2B marketing investment is printed material sent through the mail.

Printed material can physically sit in stacks on the desk to be picked up and read later. Printed material gets read offline when there are no other electronic distractions. Many business buyers take material to be read in the convenience of their home. Printed material gets filed for future reference.

I experienced this personally just this morning. I received an email invitation from a stranger to bid on a project. The inquiry was sent to my main email address, not the info@ address I use on my Web site. So naturally, I asked where the sender got my name.

Her answer: “I received a cold marketing letter from you in 2009 and saved it. How about that for longevity?”

Putting a physical piece, letter, brochure, data sheet, CD, or other bit of information in the hands of your targeted prospects gives them something to review at their leisure, save, pass along to associates, pass around at meetings, file and reference later.

It works now for generating qualified leads and gives your B2B marketing investment the long life that doesn’t readily exist in other B2B marketing channels.

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One B2B social media expert who’s got it wrong.

I’m not a social marketing expert. I don’t pretend to be. My expertise and knowledge are in the outbound arena. I’ve written many times that I still believe in outbound marketing because I see it working cost-effectively for all my B2B clients. They use it to reliably fill their pipeline.

Yes, inbound marketing is cheaper. Yes, it works. But users of it cannot control the volume or the timing of the inbound inquiries it receives. Outbound marketers using proven B2B direct marketing practices can.

Here’s the reason for my rant. Perusing B2B Marketing Zone, I saw the reposting of the blog by Dragan Mestrovic on his inBlurbs site “How to save 62 percent of your budget with inbound marketing.”

He knows inbound marketing. His advice and the statistics he presents are all perfectly valid.

This rant concerns what he says about outbound marketing because, on that subject, he’s way off base.

Outbound marketing communication is one-way.
Initially, it is. A B2B marketer sends a message that reaches out to a targeted group. That message, however, is designed to generate a response. The minute there is a response, the communication instantly becomes two-way.

Outbound marketers’ customers are sought out.
Of course they are. But the customers being reached are not random. By accessing targeted databases of opt-in customers, members of groups, trade show attendees, carefully compiled databases and more, the B2B marketing firm is reaching out to those companies and individuals who match the profile of their customers.

Outbound direct marketing has been around for so many years that the level of database sophistication is staggering. Unlike what Mestrovic proposes — that marketers fill out a persona sheet to build a customer profile — an outbound B2B marketer uses data companies such as Acxiom, Accudata or one of many others to build a statistically sound customer CHAID or regression model. That model is then matched against rental lists to find prospects that match the customer profile. There’s no guesswork involved.

Outbound marketers provide little or no added value.
Do inbound marketers think they invented content? It’s been around as long as direct marketing has been around. It used to be called an “offer.” That’s how outbound marketers get a response — by offering educational information. The very subject of the content is designed to generate qualified leads. B2B marketers test various offers against each other to let the response from the market tell them which is the best.

Outbound marketers rarely seek to educate or entertain.
See above about education. Entertainment can be part of any marketing message — outbound or inbound. But it needs to be used carefully, as a poor use of “cleverness” or “humor” in marketing can backfire and negatively affect the brand.

Mestrovic says that outbound marketing is losing its efficacy. But in the real world, B2B companies calculate what they are willing to pay to get a qualified lead and, once they do, they’ll find that outbound marketing is still a bargain and that, unlike inbound marketing, it can predictably generate those leads.

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